Texas Bar B Que is the latest addition to the array of foreign food now available on the streets of Bangkok. Smoked pork ribs, pulled pork, hand-made sausage and beef brisket have finally arrived. And though at a roadside cart, they have arrived in style.
The proprietor, cook and server is Tongchit Panyadee who learned the secrets of the technique from an American friend. After years of cooking these delicacies for friends and family, and after much encouragement, she has finaly made Texas style Bar B Que available to the public at large.
She marinates the beef, pork, and sausages overnight - then slow cooks everything over a hardwood fire for up to eight hours. From there, they go fresh daily to her roadside cart on Sukunvut Soi 20.
It's been a long slow journey for Bar B Que from its origins in the Southern United States, through to Texas and finally to the streets of Bangkok. Bar B Que's roots lay in pre-civil war America and slavery. The cuts of meats were the cast offs, the poorer cuts of meat, the ribs and shoulder that were 'thrown over the fence,' as they say, to the slaves. Because if their lack of tenderness, they were marinated for up to a day, then slow-cooked over a low heat hardwood fire over night. Not only would the result be delectable, but the meat, due to the smoking would not perish and could be kept. This was before refrigeration, of course.
This is traditional Southern Bar B Que and uses pork and a dry rub, a dry marinate that is applied, especially in the case of ribs, before the smoking process.
From there, accompanying advancing civilization, Bar B Que moves west to Texas. Here, not surprisingly, beef is added to the menu. But it is not added, as you might expect, by hungry cowboys, but rather by German immigrants. Again, it is not the prime cuts of meat that make it to the table, but rather brisket and sausage. The brisket is what the new arrivals to America used in their famed corned beef, and in keeping with slow cooking's ability to turn less than choice cuts into gourmet food, was an ideal candidate for Bar B Que. And, of course, the Germans are famous for their sausage making.
The other difference between Southern style Bar B Que and Texas style, is that Texas uses a wet marinate. Tongchit, or Ot to everyone on Soi Twenty, makes the marinade herself, and offers this same sauce on the table so that customers may top-up the dishes a bit more themselves. She also offers the sauce for sale.
Everything is authentic and made in her kitchen. This includes the sausages which she hand stuffs herself. The Bar B Que sauce, too, a special blend taught to her by her friend is also of her own making. Of course, Ot being Thai, has modified the ingredients slightly to make them a bit more personable and tangy.
The sausages have a spicy bite to them and the sauce just adds the right amount of hotness to complement the meat, but not overpower the smoky flavors.
Her ribs are fall-off-the-bone delicious. The pulled pork, beef brisket and sausages come to the table in buns which she buys fresh daily. She also, on occasion, has smoked chicken breast sausages and sandwiches.
The slow cooking of course is done before hand so all Ot has to do is warm up the meat a bit, put it in a bun and bring it to the table. Service is prompt and Thai friendly.
Without trying to offend pure carnivores, Ot also serves two traditional salads, coleslaw and potato, along with beans. The beans contain just enough pork to give then a smoky flavor. The potato salad is firm and creamy. There are two ways of doing coleslaw, creamy or vinegar. Ot has chosen vinegar, wisely, as to offset the creamy potato salad. Cole slaw is also added to the pulled pork sandwiches.
My favorite would be a toss-up between the pulled pork, a roasted pork shoulder that is smoked and shredded, and the pork sausage. I usually go with both, but would challenge anyone to come up with a tastier sausage, which are lean and firm, in Bangkok.
This is gourmet food at bargain prices and competitive with fast food joints.
Where it's at:
Sukhumvit Soi 20 can be reached by Skytrain and is halfway between the Asoke and Prom Pom stations. The stand is 50m down the Soi and on the left. Look for the Bar B Que sign. Parking is available. Also, Ot may be cooking so just follow your nose and the sweet aroma of smoking Bar B Que on down the street.
Beer and Soda available. Prices range from 90 baht for the sausages and sandwiches to 160 baht for the ribs.